Old English Sheepdogs are distinctive the world over with their long, shaggy coats covering thickset bodies. Their eyes appear to be totally covered but their vision is never impaired. From behind, their walk is a bear-like roll and when trotting show effortless extension with a powerful drive from the hindquarters.
Despite the name 'Old English', records do not confirm that the breed is either 'Old' or all 'English'. The breed emerged in England in the mid 1700's and it seems likely, given its characteristics, that it is linked to ancient herders, including the Bergamasco, the Bearded Collie, the Briard and the Armant. The nickname 'Bobtail' is significant in its history.
In England in the 18th century, tax exemption was granted to drover dogs, which helped drive the herds to market. To mark these dogs, their tails were docked. Luckily this cosmetic mutilation is no longer allowed in the UK. OES's were excellent at this job because of their eagerness and weather-resistant coats.
However no one in these days groomed the dogs and they were sheared annually along with the sheep. The farmers' wives spun the dog shearings as well as the sheep's wool into warm clothing. This is an intelligent breed that needs firm handling during training to overcome their strong wills. However, they do want to please their handler. Early training is imperative to control the breed's boisterous behaviour. (PetPlanet)